APA Bibliographies

Students beware! I know instantly which graduate students use this product. Why? Because many of their APA citations and REFERENCES (not bibliography) are improperly formatted. Their response is always the same: it's that stupid Z software! Let's talk bibliogrpahy . . . .

There's no such thing as 'almost' APA, MLA, etc. Either it is, or it is not. Z's APA reference list is not! It should be double-spaced and formatted using APA 5th Editon rules. Fix it. It has been a known problem for some time. All the fancy storing, tagging, integrating, sharing, synching, bla bla bla, is useless if this stuff cannot format per specification. Incidentally, there are several other citation types that are also NOT APA compliant, but I'll somebody else bag about them. The truth is this is a very average (at best) product with poor support. You are wise not to charge for it. What time is saved capturing information is lost in time spent REVIEWING and CORRECTING APA mistakes, not to mention the lower grades earned for perfectly good research because unsuspecting students trust in a subpar product. . . .
  • This kind of post is way, way out-of-line. If you're not simply a petty troll, then tell people the specific problems and how to fix it. Otherwise, go away please.

    This is the first time I've ever been prompted to say this, but I'd like to suggest this user be banned.
  • Agreed that this has more than a strong whiff of trollishness, but let's give srod10 a chance to indicate what needs to be fixed, other than double-spacing, since the APA style has been stable for a long time now with few if any complaints. I am most interested to learn more about the following statement, since I have no idea what it means:
    Incidentally, there are several other citation types that are also NOT APA compliant, but I'll somebody else bag about them.
  • edited March 15, 2009
    While srod10 does seem to go overboard in the bashing, the point about the reference list is valid. APA style calls for double-spaced references, but the reference list generated by zotero is single-spaced. When I manually set it to double-space within my word processor, zotero overrides this the next time it is refreshed.

    So, I'd like to ask for help in getting this changed. Instructions for how to fix my CSL file would be fine in the short term, but this really should be addressed in the APA style available through zotero.

    Finally, if a student is trusting zotero in lieu of proper editing and proofreading, then the student deserves the lower grade. Railing against the tool is sophomoric. Does srod10 also past flaming posts on the Microsoft forum when a student trusts spellcheck to catch their improper use of "there"? The tool is excellent, but no tool should be expected to replace common sense.

    And, for the record, I've found that the time that it takes to correct the "errors" I get from the automatically generated information from zotero (which are often due to problems with the search engines and databases, not the zotero tool) pales in comparison to the time I save by not having to type each reference manually. I know, because I've actually bothered to compare on several test projects before I invested in committing my dissertation to zotero.

    Anyway, any help with fixing the APA style reference list would be greatly appreciated. I've tried adjusting the "entry-spacing" value in the "layout" macro in the CSL file for the style, but no luck.
  • edited March 15, 2009
    The APA style has just been updated in the repository by erazlogo, but in the future (as in, for other styles you might want to edit) you just need to use "line-spacing" like:

    <option name="line-spacing" value="2"/>
  • But would be nice to make it easier for this to be defined in the document template.
  • Sean, do I just add that option to the bibliography macro, or do I modify the "entry-spacing" line?
  • Well, I installed the updated style, inspected it, then copied the line-spacing option into my custom CSL file (in which I've also edited out the commands to pull in DOI information). Even with the updated style, my reference are still single spaced. Any suggestions?
  • 1) did you validate your style?

    2) did you change the id value so it is unique?
  • 1) I don't know what validating the style means.

    2) I did give it a unique ID value.

    I'll try it all again. The updated APA style from the repository *does* double-space my reference list, but adding the "line-spacing" entry to my custome "apanodoi" style does not double-space.
  • Okay, not certain what I had done wrong, but I've got it worked out now. Ended up starting over with my custom CSL file, using the new CSL (instead of my old CSL file) as the base.

    Thanks for your help!
  • Another debatable issue about APA style concerns the use of issue numbers in addition to volume numbers. This has been discussed in other threads, but is still unchanged.
    see http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/130/apa-format-for-bibliography/

    According to the APA style manual, 5th ed., "if, and only if, each issue begins on page 1, give the issue number in parentheses" (p. 227).

    Of course, zotero cannot know the pagination of the issues. Maybe that's why currently issue numbers are always listed. This means that one has to manually edit the bibliography to comply with APA style. However, given that pagination that is not continuous across different issues is a very rare occurance, it makes much more sense to omit the issue number by default.

    (I know this APA rule is particularly stupid, but it's there.)
  • My position on this, as articulated in that long thread, was:

    APA allows, but does not require, omitting issue numbers in continuously paginated periodicals. But since a) not all periodicals are continuously paginated, b) we have no way of knowing or encoding that they are, and c) redundant-ish information is not a bug (I really cannot see anyone being bothered by an additional "(3)"), I think the proper behavior is to include the issue number.

    I can see from the language you quote that my first assumption was wrong. But I still think this is an insanely stupid rule. The issue (no pun in intended!) here is how common non-continuous pagination is. If even five percent of my articles include it, isn't it worse to leave the issue number out, because manually adding back missing data is harder than deleting excess data? If, OTOH, the rate is less than one percent, then that's different.

    Maybe we need a poll.
  • Hi bdarcus, hope you don't mind a quick months-later reply!

    I totally agree that the APA's requirement to omit the issue number when volumes are continuous paginated is a stupid rule - it just makes finding a particular work that someone else has cited a bit more difficult! That said, in some situations, you just have to go blindly by the book - e.g. undergraduate/early postgrad assignments, where the marker is more interested in you following the rules than improving them. So is there an easy edit to the csl file I can make to exclude the issue number - given that I take the risk of leaving out some issue numbers that I DO need?

    As to how common pagination that isn't continuous by volume is - I've just done a quick ctrl-find count of the journals listed at:
    218 were paginated by volume, and 38 by issue, suggesting the figure is around 15%. This is a pretty rough indicator though - firstly because Wikipedians may have focused on including paginated-by-issue journals (since these are the ones needing special treatment), and secondly because a simple list of journals in print doesn't reflect which journals are more likely to be cited - my impression after a (very) quick browse of the list was that the paginated-by-issue journals were usually lesser-known publications as opposed to "big-name" journals.
  • If you really want to, you can just take out this line from the APA .csl
    <text variable="issue" prefix="(" suffix=")"/>
    (see here: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/5104/modifying-word-plugin-using-journal-abbreviation-instead-of-publication-name/#Item_2
    on how to do that)

    But as Bruce said - I think adding information is a lot more error prone that taking it out at the end.
  • One issue which I've had and haven't yet figured a solution for it. When adding a reference type - Book Section - there's not a field in which to enter the book's editors. Given that, it's not possible to have the reference output in APA format.

  • edited September 6, 2009
    Hi CMDuke.

    The triangle just to the left of Author is a pull-down menu for options other than Author - (Editor, Translator, Contributor etc).
    Just add another Author, change the type to Editor, and it should work perfectly. If there are any problems, please let us know!
  • edited September 6, 2009
    Just for reference, this is explained in the kb: adding an edited volume or book chapter.
  • @komrade @mark...
    Thanks! Should have commented/asked sooner ;-)

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